Deaf community outraged sign language interpreter for Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela memorial service was a ‘fake’

Sign language experts say this unidentified sign language interpreter was a fake. Picture: AP Courier Mail – by DANIEL PIOTROWSKI

A MAN who provided sign language interpretation for Barack Obama and other dignitaries at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was “a fake”, according to multiple sign language experts.

Bruno Druchen, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa, said the man, seen next to the US president and other world leaders, “was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for.”  

“He’s a complete fraud,” said Cara Loening, director of Sign Language Education and Development in Cape Town.


The interpreter signing earlier in the ceremony. Picture: Supplied/Twitter

The interpreter signing earlier in the ceremony. Picture: Supplied/Twitter Source: NewsComAu

“He wasn’t even doing anything, There was not one sign there. Nothing. He was literally flapping his arms around.”

Local interpreter Francois Deysel said the man was “moving his arms (to) try look busy” in an “embarrassing” spectacle.

Nicole Du Toit, another official sign language interpreter who also watched the broadcast, said in a telephone interview that the man on stage purporting to sign was an embarrassment.

“It was horrible, an absolute circus, really really bad,” she said. “Only he can understand those gestures.”

South African parliamentarian Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, a deaf member of the ruling party, also said the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movements.

South African sign language covers all of the country’s 11 official languages, according to the federation.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the unidentified man was using a different method to communicate.

Loening said her organisation was getting mail from around the world “wondering what on earth this man was doing there”.

“It’s a real embarrassment. It’s complete disrespect for the deaf community and for what Nelson Mandela stood for and the support which he gave toward the deaf community.”

Jackson Mthembu, spokesman for the governing African National Congress party, declined to comment. “Government will be able to assist you,” Mthembu said.

The South African government is preparing a statement.

Sent to us by George.

16 thoughts on “Deaf community outraged sign language interpreter for Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela memorial service was a ‘fake’

  1. This is great. I saw this on ABC news this morning. Yes this was so bad that is was funny…. I can see where it could be insulting to the deaf though.

  2. As someone who once worked at a school for the deaf in Mexico, I found this very amusing. The man did not finger spell a single word – probably because he didn’t know the basic alphabet. Did no one check his credentials? LOL

  3. How fitting..seeing as how Obama is a complete fake. Wouldn’t even surprise me if he was a clone with the real Barry somewhere else underground creating even more Hell. The people who have taken over our government don’t even care anymore. It’s become such a joke. The elite are probably sitting in a room somewhere far away saying,

    “Hmm…let’s see what we can get away with today. How about we put in a fake sign language interpreter for fun and see if anyone will notice. Oh I can’t wait to see this….it’ll be great. Hahahahaha!!”

    Man, what I would give to beat the shit out of those bastards.

  4. It is kind of appropriate for an imposter to interpret an inposter,kinda brought this to mind,the white faced buck toothed cake eater looks like moochell to me

    1. Love Steely Dan. 🙂
      Sounds like I could have interpreted better. I know the alphabet. We used to use it in class. It was encryption in our addled teen aged brains. That being said there were no deaf kids there and it wasn’t used to insult.
      This is a spectacle and an insult to the deaf and the entire world. Did they really think no one would notice?

      1. I like “Steely Dan” too,but this is “Stealers wheel”,you might reconize the name Gerry raferty who had a solo career after leaving stealers wheel, down on main street was one of his hits,now steely dan was way more popular with hits like rikki dont loose that number,hey 19,deacon blues etc

        1. TY…I was having a senior moment.
          Steely Dan – Reelin’ In The Years on the Midnight Special.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *